Medicine Lodge WSA Location: Big Horn County
Nearest Town: Hyattville (5 miles)
BLM Acreage: 7,740 acres
Recommended for Wilderness: 3,600 acres
Access Points & Directions:
The WSA is bounded mainly by the Cold Springs Road on the south, the Black Butte Road on the north and the west, and the Bighorn National Forest on the east.
Allowable Uses & Restrictions:
Motorized use is limited to designated routes. Motorized use off of routes is strictly prohibited. Please abide by all posted regulations.
Primitive & Unconfined Recreation:
Medicine Lodge WSA contains outstanding opportunities for primitive and unconfined recreation. Opportunities for hiking and climbing exist in Medicine Lodge Canyon. Medicine Lodge Creek is a trout fishery of regional importance. Opportunity for fishing appears greatest in the lower reaches of the creek. Excellent wildlife viewing and hunting opportunities exist throughout the WSA. The juniper belt provides cover and forage for deer. The shrub-steppe areas draw elk in the fall and winter months. Both species are hunted heavily. Opportunities for viewing and hunting small game, predators, and upland birds are also present throughout the unit.
In addition, the outstanding scenic quality of this WSA enhances the recreational value.
The Medicine Lodge WSA encompasses 7,740 acres of BLM-administered land with no private or state inholdings. The WSA consists of spectacular canyon walls towering 1,000 feet above Medicine Lodge Creek. Elevations range between 5,100 and 8,500 feet. The area includes crucial winter range for elk and deer. Bighorn sheep may use parts of the WSA as summer range. Rich color combinations, vertical or nearly vertical cliffs, spires and formations; variation in form, pattern, texture and type of vegetation; and presence of free-flowing, cascading water make the WSA highly scenic.
The Medicine Lodge WSA is predominantly natural with negligible human imprints. Medicine Lodge Canyon is the unit’s dominate feature. The average elevation difference between the canyon’s rim and Medicine Lodge Creek is about 1,000 feet. The unit consists of steeply sloping shrub-steppe and broken rugged areas with shallow canyons and unusual knobby rock outcrops.
The Spanish Point Karst ACEC, which maintains and protects the cave and karst system, the sinking stream segments and groundwater quantity and quality, includes portions of the WSA. The extra management efforts to maintain the ACEC, cave systems and OHV designations greatly enhance the efforts to maintain the wilderness characteristics of the Medicine Lodge WSA.
Intrusions in the unit are minimal in terms of density, visual impact and extent. Two-track trails, spring developments, small reservoirs, short segments of fence, a small timber sale and cabin ruins are the major intrusions. Medicine Lodge Canyon has no intrusions and is pristine.
Outstanding opportunities for solitude exist in the WSA. The best opportunity exists in Medicine Lodge Canyon, where activity on the bottom of the canyon is removed from activity on the rims. Sight distances are limited by the canyon and vegetation. Inhospitable terrain, the lack of trails, thick vegetation along the water courses and the blockages of fallen timber and boulders is characteristic of the canyon bottom. Limited use also enhances the solitude in the canyon. Livestock use is nonexistent in most of the canyon and recreational use of the canyon is extremely limited because of the difficult access.
The shrub-steppe is not conducive to solitude. The lack of vegetative and topographic screening is especially evident during heavy use periods (hunting season). The rugged character in the juniper belt promotes solitude by reducing access and limiting the number of users. These opportunities for solitude are not affected by the size and configuration of the WSA. Outside sights and sounds have little effect on solitude.
Medicine Lodge WSA is extremely important to wildlife. Nearly the entire WSA is crucial elk winter range. The area is cooperatively managed by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) and the BLM as winter and crucial winter range for elk. Crucial deer winter range exists just to the east of the WSA. The entire WSA serves as deer winter range. Bighorn sheep, which were reintroduced in the Paint Rock Canyon area several years ago, may use parts of the Medicine Lodge WSA as summer range.
Medicine Lodge Canyon rates extremely high in scenic value, which is based on the rich color combinations, the vertical or nearly vertical cliffs, spires and formations, and the variation in form, pattern, texture and type of vegetation. The supplemental values inherent in the WSA definitely enhance the wilderness values of the WSA.
The exposed geologic features in the steep walls of the canyons provide the opportunity to study the geologic history of the area. The Madison Limestone Formation is a storehouse of fossils such as brachiopods, corals, bryozoans and crinoids stems.
The WSA is also known to contain a high density of important cultural materials from early human occupation.